Castle & Cooke needs approval to build its $2.2 billion community on agricultural lands
Castle & Cooke has asked the state Land Use Commission for permission to convert agricultural lands north of Costco in Waipio into its $2.2 billion master-planned communities Koa Ridge Makai and Waiawa.
The developer, which topped off a 16,000-home, 40-year project in Mililani in 2008, now seeks to reclassify nearly 768 acres in Waipio and Waiawa from an agricultural to an urban designation. Such a ruling would allow Castle & Cooke to move forward on its long-stalled project, which has been planned since the 1990s.
Koa Ridge calls for 3,500 housing units and 500,000 square feet of commercial development, an elementary school, parks, recreation centers and churches to be built on about 575 acres makai of the H-2 freeway. At Waiawa, Castle & Cooke would build another 1,500 homes on 191 acres mauka of the H-2 near Ka Uka Boulevard. The development, which would offer homes from $200,000 to $1 million, would bring more affordable housing to Central Oahu, create some 2,500 jobs and create millions in state and county revenue, said Bruce Barrett, executive vice president of Castle & Cooke.
If the commission agrees to the request, the developer still must go before the city to get subdivision approval, but it will have met all major hurdles, as the LUC approved Castle & Cooke’s environmental impact statement in June. With all approvals, the company could break ground at the end of 2012.
A series of public hearings, which could take months and no doubt will reopen old wounds and mend some old fences, began yesterday. The LUC tentatively approved the project in 2002; however, community opposition and legal battles sent Castle & Cooke back to the drawing board after a state judge ruled that a formal environmental review was necessary before the subdivision, with its planned medical and commercial development, could be built.
September 15, 2009 – Hilo, Hawaii Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi took a moment last Friday to talk about the challenges facing the Big Island economy, and how it will impact next year’s county budget.
According to a news release, Kenoi told his county staff on Monday at a meeting to kick off budget preparations that "deep and painful budget cuts will be necessary to carry the county through the next fiscal year". The county says its facing a $44.8 million hole in next fiscal year’s budget, which combines $33.8 million less in projected revenues and $11 million more in projected expenses.
“We’ve never faced what we face today,” said Mayor Kenoi in Monday’s media release. “Which means we’ve got to take steps that we never took before,” to make government more efficient and reduce county spending.
Kula housing project gains a little ground
WAILUKU – Maui Planning Commission members were unable to agree where to designate growth boundaries in South Maui, but they did make some progress in Kula.
The Kula Ridge housing project had both supporters and doubters before the planning commission.
Part of the project is supposed to be affordable, but some wondered how to ensure that it really turns out that way.
"Don’t get into a project-review decision-making mode," advised Department of Planning Director Jeff Hunt, adding that downstream reviews of matters such as community plan designations can look at projects in detail.
"This is the beginning of a 125-hurdle process," said Chairman Wayne Hedani.
When it came to a vote, the controversial portion of Kula Ridge cleared its hurdle, with commission member Warren Shibuya dissenting over concerns about water and the adequacy of Lower Kula Road.
However, A&B Properties’ bid to add 80 acres to 63 acres for residential development at Haliimaile failed.
Commission member Kent Hiranaga pointed out that the developer is going to provide water and sewage treatment anyway, so it would be financially helpful to expand the project.
"A&B is an agriculture company and a development company," he said. "If we want to allow them to continue the agricultural sector of their business, you need to allow some development. If you take away development, I believe you are jeopardizing the future of sugar cane.
"Then you will have lots of ag land to use for something."
However, farmers – organic and conventional – opposed taking prime agricultural land out of production, and on a split vote the 80 acres were excluded from the designated growth zone.
That Hiranaga moved to support an A&B proposal was ironic in light of earlier testimony.
A national panel criticizes the USDA’s scientific research on the light brown apple moth but affirms the agency’s power to start another round of aerial spraying.
As expected, a panel from the National Academy of Sciences said on Monday that the government has the legal authority to embark on a massive new eradication effort against the light brown apple moth, thereby opening the door for another round of aerial pesticide spraying. But the panel also criticized the United States Department of Agriculture for engaging in shoddy science to substantiate its war on the moth.
The 21-page report came in response to petitions submitted by opponents of the government’s extermination plans. They had asked the USDA to reclassify the light brown apple moth from being a major pest to one that could be easily controlled by farmers. Such a move would have prohibited aerial spraying or other major eradication efforts that the government is now planning.
Opponents believe the USDA and state officials have severely overstated the threats posed by the moth, and have noted that it has lived for more than one hundred years in Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii without causing serious, sustained damage to crops or native plants and trees. The USDA, nonetheless, believes the moth will destroy large swaths of cropland throughout California and much of the southern United States. The agency also considers it a serious threat to native redwood and pine forests.
Vegetation in an area may determine its usable water supply, ecologists find
Ecologists have discovered that timber plantations in Hawaii use more than twice the amount of water to grow as native forests use. Especially for island ecosystems, these findings suggest that land management decisions can place ecosystems – and the people who depend on them – at high risk for water shortages.
"Scientists used to think that forests in same environments use water in the same way," says Lawren Sack of The University of California at Los Angeles, who coauthored the study with graduate student Aurora Kagawa in the September issue of the ESA journal Ecological Applications. "Our work shows that this is not the case. We need to know the water budget of our landscape, from gardens to forests to parks, because water is expensive."
Although forests like these Hawaiian timber plantations can be valuable for their contributions to human society, such as fiber, fuel and carbon sequestration, they are dominated by non-native vegetation.
Kagawa, Sack and their colleagues compared the water use of trees in native forests, composed mostly of native ohia trees, with water use in timber plantations containing exotic eucalyptus and tropical ash. The team inserted heated and unheated probes into the trees’ trunks and monitored the temperature differences between the two as sap flowed past them. This technique allowed them to determine the rate of sap flow through the tree. A faster flow rate means that the tree is using more water.
State Energy Officials Convene in Annapolis to Tackle Green Jobs, Energy Efficiency and Other Stimulus-Related Issues – Zoi, Rogers of U.S. Department of Energy Address National Association of State Energy Officials –
ANNAPOLIS, Md., Sept. 14 /PRNewswire/ — The largest-ever meeting of State Energy Officials convened in Annapolis, Md. today to discuss state and federal efforts to create green jobs, increase the nation’s energy efficiency and use of renewable energy, and tackle other issues related to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Over 200 participants are attending the three-day Annual Meeting of the National Association of State Energy Officials, whose members typically are designated by governors to run their state and territory energy offices.
By EDWIN TANJI, For The Maui News
POSTED: September 11, 2009
Sonny Kaniho was a Native Hawaiian. He was also a loyal citizen of the United States, an Air Force veteran, a Pearl Harbor shipworker.
As a Native Hawaiian, he recognized injustices perpetrated on Native Hawaiians. As an American, he believed the government could be pushed into reversing the injustices. He knew it would take effort and it would take time. He committed himself to the effort. It’s taken more time than he had, but the injustices he strived to correct had been in place for most of the century.
His effort also was mostly personal but it ran parallel with and enhanced other efforts by many groups to revitalize Hawaiian culture and restore Hawaiian rights. In the 1970s, efforts at restoring Hawaii as a place reflecting its indigenous people included the Aboriginal Lands of Hawaii Association, Hawaiian musicians, kumu hula, the Polynesian Voyaging Society, the Protect Kahoolawe Ohana, and Dr. Terry Shintani, who established the nutritional value of the Hawaiian Diet.
Kaniho’s effort gave a synergistic boost to the 1978 debate that led to formulation of Article XII of the Hawaii Constitution – the Hawaiian Affairs section mandating state funding for Hawaiian Home Lands and establishing the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
Sonny Kaniho was an unlikely protester who conducted unlikely protests, a soft-spoken man engaging in nonviolent acts of civil disobedience in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King. His peaceful protests were not angry confrontations. They were designed to draw public attention to what he viewed to be unjust decisions of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
The department didn’t agree, but it based its actions on 50 years of inertia. Kaniho knew the excuses. He didn’t accept them.
Mayor Billy Kenoi today called on the Hawai’i County Council to reject Bill 132 when the council Finance Committee considers the measure next week. Bill 132 would require the County Council approve each county land sale two times, adding a new bureaucratic layer to the process.
“This issue is about fiscal responsibility,” Mayor Kenoi said. “Because of the difficult economic times, we proposed selling a portion of the Hamakua lands that have sat unused for 15 years. The sale was part of a budget process designed to avoid raising taxes, avoid cuts in non-profit agencies, maintain free bus service, and protect essential services such as police and fire protection. In June, the County Council agreed with this proposal, and voted 8-1 for a budget that included revenue from a Hamakua land sale.”
WASHINGTON–(Business Wire)– Developing and developed countries across the Pacific Rim are adopting biotech solutions to cut greenhouse gas emissions, efficiently utilize resources, and jumpstart economic growth. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today announced the sessions and speaker presentations to be delivered at the 2009 Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy, to be held Nov. 8-11, 2009 in Honolulu.